A land mine explosion hit a Russian military convoy in the Chechen capital on Friday, wounding two servicemen, officials said. The radio-controlled land mine targeted vehicles belonging to military engineers who were driving across downtown Grozny. Two servicemen were hospitalized with shrapnel wounds, according to the regional branch of Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.
On Thursday, a federal serviceman was wounded in another land mine explosion that targeted a group of soldiers searching for rebels in the southern Vedeno region, the local Interior Ministry's department said in a statement Friday.
Russian forces have been battling separatists in Chechnya since 1999, the second war there in a decade. The separatists target federal forces and their local collaborators in regular raids and land mine explosions.
Chechen rebels in coordination with local militants in other Russian southern provinces also launched attacks outside Chechnya, including the most recent raid on law enforcement offices in the city of Nalchik, the regional capital of the southern province of Kabardino-Balkariya, according to the AP.
At least 139 people died on in the brazen daytime assault on Oct. 13, including the 94 accused attackers, according to official tallies.
The Interior Ministry's office in Kabardino-Balkariya said that police on Thursday found the body of another alleged militant who raided Nalchik in a forest near the city.
Meanwhile, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel on Friday released new details of the death of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed in March after having been cornered by federal forces in a bunker in the village of Tolstoy-Yurt.
Shepel said Maskhadov was shot dead by his nephew and bodyguard, Viskhan Khadzhimuratov. Maskhadov had earlier asked to kill him to avoid the capture, Shepel said in a statement, according to his office.
Earlier reports differed on whether Maskhadov was killed by the federal forces or shot by one of his own bodyguards.
Maskhadov, who was elected Chechen president in 1997 when the region enjoyed a brief de-facto independence after the withdrawal of Russian forces following the first, 1994-96 war in the region. When federal troops rolled back in 1999, Maskhadov presided over rebels' military operations but denied involvement in various terror attacks and called for peace talks.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea